Luke Pinder and co driver Kim Baker were cruelly robbed of a class victory and potential top ten result on the International Rally Isle Of Man recently, the third round in the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship.

After a cautious start in the notoriously treacherous conditions the pair climbed up the leaderboard and were lying twelfth overall - and tenth in the BRC - when a driveshaft broke on their RDL / Sintura / Dealer Update backed Puma.

"It's not even as though we were pushing hard," said Pinder. "We started the final leg of the rally in second position in class R2 and 13th overall.

"The drier weather conditions suited the Puma so things were looking good."

R2 Class leader Andreas Sjolander crashed early in the first stage of the final day, Pinder and Baker came across the scene, which Pinder described as 'like a plane crash'. After slowing to check the Swedish crew were okay, Pinder and Baker pressed on elated to have inherited the class lead.

That elation did not last for long however, and within a couple of miles the Puma was coasting to a halt with no drive and retired. Under SupeRally rules the car had to be recovered and placed in parc ferme, this allowed the crew to be classified as finishers and score championship points, albeit for sixth position in class rather than first.

"In circumstances like these you have to look at the positives," added Baker. "We have an excellent set-up for Ulster, we have proved our pace with fastest times in class on both this rally - and on the Jim Clark back in May - and we have learned an awful lot about the Puma.

"We know that the car is on the pace too despite only having a 1400 cc engine against the 1600 and 2000 engines of the others in the class. We feel confident that we can do a good job in Ulster, we just need a bit of good luck."

Pinder and Baker's Puma has now been fitted with a replacement driveshaft and apart from routine checks is ready for Ulster where the fast roads around Armagh should allow the duo to exploit the car excellent handling qualities.

"In the dry the car just has loads of grip and it is fantastic to drive. Many thanks are due to our Chris Birkbeck Rally Sport Team for providing us with such an excellent car and to RDL for the budget to run it," Pinder summed-up.


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